In the aftermath of Germany’s surrender in World War One, the victorious Allied nations implemented the Treaty of Versailles, aimed at preventing any potential of Germany rising back to prominence. To protect the growing instability, small police regiments were created to maintain order. One of these groups was called the Wachtruppe, comprised mostly of returning veterans and young men.
The years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War saw Hitler annex neighboring territories, claiming he was reuniting all ethnic Germans under his leadership. One by one, the Saarland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia were brought under Nazi rule. It seemed that the goal of creating a greater Germany (Grossdeutschland) was coming true.
The Wachtruppe regiment was renamed to the Infantry Regiment of Greater Germany (GD for short) and was mobilized for active service in June 1939. Comprised of only ethnic Germans, it was considered one of the elite units within the armed forces. They prepared for war constantly, but were training during the invasion of Poland. Feeling that their honor had been tarnished, they would see get their chance to fight on the front lines.
Eventually attached to a larger tank division, the unit participated in the invasions of Belgium and France. Caught off guard, Allied armies were surrounded and forced to evacuate to England. 5th Kompanie GD served with distinction, thus earning the respect of their fellow soldiers.
Seeing limited action in Yugoslavia, the unit would spend the remainder of the war fighting in the East. Crossing the border into Russia in 1941, the unit assisted in surrounding and destroying entire armies during the first weeks of the campaign. Confident of victory, it came as a shock when the Russians launched a counterattack at the gates of Moscow, driving the Germans back.
Taking part in the opening phases of the Stalingrad campaign, the Germans made speedy progress until they were turned back by a massive Russian attack comprised of over a million men. 5th Kompanie GD was thrown back towards the town of Rhzev in confusion.
As The Vanquished opens in September 1942, the men of 5th GD have been ordered to hold the line at all costs. They still retain their status as one of the most respected units in the East, but have suffered appalling casualties that cannot be replaced. They have seen the conflict devolve into a war of attrition and extermination, and wonder if they will ever emerge from it with their lives.
The men of 5th Kompanie get some much-needed rest back at camp.